Lack of documents barrier to voter registration

Victims of the Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland and Midlands regions are struggling to acquire national documents, a development that hinders them from partaking in the ongoing mobile voter registration exercise, human rights advocates have noted.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) in a report titled: “An Analysis of ZHRC’s National Inquiry” highlighted challenges faced by various marginalised communities which have limited access to the Department of the Registrar General (DRG).

ZimRights said the negative effects of Gukurahundi on accessing national documents such as birth certificates and death certificates are still being experienced as many people who lost their national documents at the peak of the era are unable to replace them.

“Some victims failed to get death certificates in cases of missing persons who died in this era resulting in generations of undocumented persons. The failure to get death certificates prevents registration for birth certificates and consequently national identity cards,” ZimRights said.  

“In cases where witnesses were required to support the application of documentation, many are often scared to testify about the death of their relatives for fear of the unknown. Some Gukurahundi affected persons are reluctant to participate in mobile registration exercises as it reminds them of Gukurahundi events.”

The report further listed people with disabilities as another affected community as the DRG premises lack infrastructure and services that cater for their peculiar needs.

“There is no user-unfriendly DRG infrastructure for wheelchair users. Information on DRG services, requirements and legislation are not in accessible format for persons with disabilities, such as audio or braille and they also lack sign language interpreters,” ZimRights said.

“There is a lack of capacity and awareness by DRG officials to provide disability sensitive services. Allegations of ill-treatment, abuse and name calling of persons with disabilities by some DRG officials have been made alongside negative and discriminatory attitudes by families of persons with disabilities resulting in hiding them in their houses and not registering them.”

The report stated that some mentally impaired mothers often fail to register their children due to a lack of support from relatives, resulting in generations of unregistered children.

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